Major Solar Flare Erupts, More Possible
29 Mar 2001
(Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA Space Environment Center, Boulder, Colo.
After four months of minimal activity, the sun is again waking up. It produced a major solar flare today at 5:15 a.m. EST, according to NOAA's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo. The flare emerged from one of the largest sunspot areas of the sun to erupt in more than a decade. As a result of this event, a strong radio blackout (R3 on NOAA's space weather scales) also occurred at 5:15 a.m. EST. Category R3 radio blackouts adversely affect high-frequency radio communications and low-frequency navigation signals on the sunlit side of the Earth. In addition, aurora borealis, or northern lights, may be visible along the northern tier of the U.S. over the weekend.
Forecasters also expect geomagnetic storms reaching minor to isolated severe levels (G1 to G3 on the space weather scales) to occur during March 30-April 1 as a result of recent Earth-directed coronal mass ejections.
According to NOAA space weather forecasters, the sun has been showing signs of increased activity in recent weeks. The sun goes through 11-year cycles of activity and right now it's in the period of high activity called solar maximum.
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